Going Indie at Cinemalaya X

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Art, in any form, is best enjoyed with someone you love. It is even better when the loved-one is equally interested and as excited as you are.

One of the reasons I constantly feel I have lots to be grateful for is because Dennis, my Adventure Buddy For Life, and I have very similar interests. Or maybe he's truly just a good ol' gentleman who allows his lady to go on with her whims. Either way, I'm lucky.

Movie Marathon-ready
Last Sunday, August 3, we headed out to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) to participate in a communal appreciation of the art of film-making.

Cinemalaya is an annual Filipino independent film festival. This year, the featured films star better-known celebrities. I'm not sure if this is because Cinemalaya has been gaining more street cred which had sparked the interest of the more popular actors, or they, the actors, joined in to bring more attention to the festival. Whichever the case may be, it delights me that Cinemalaya's turnout becomes better and better each year.

Anyway, in 2013, being the noobs that we were, Dennis and I had only gotten to watch one film - The Diplomat Hotel. We were surprised, truth be told, that most tickets were sold out. I don't know why we assumed that only a few people would partake in the festival, but we did. So, we hadn't been able to choose what to watch. We wanted to watch other films to have a point of comparison, but, unfortunately, it simply didn't happen.
Cinemalaya Day Pass
Learning from our previous experience, for Cinemalaya 2014 - now on its 10th year - we opted to buy the Day Pass which costs Php515 each. The Day Pass allows you to watch any four film screenings on your preferred date, in any CCP venue (except for the MKP Hall, I think) with free seating. You will also have the advantage of not worrying about a film being sold out, because you can go watch it regardless, provided the previously mentioned conditions are met.

At any rate, our Cinemalaya X experience can be summed up like so: a roller-coaster ride.

 Here are the films we've been able to watch:

1. The Janitor (Director's Showcase)
Crisanto Espina, a cop on suspension and under investigation, is tasked to eliminate the suspects involved in a bank robbery/massacre that shocked the whole nation.
Directed By:
Michael Tuviera
Main Cast:
Dennis Trillo, Richard Gomez ,Ricky Davao, Dante Rivero, Irma Adlawan, Lj Reyes, Derek Ramsay, Raymond Bagatsing, Alex Medina, Jerald Napoles, Nicco Manalo

Director - Michael Tuviera
Writers - Aloy Adlawan / Michael Tuviera
Line Producer - Anabelle Macauba
Associate Producers - Jacqui Cara / Adrian Raphael
Assistant Director - Linnet Zurbano
Director of Photography - Marissa Floirendo
Production Designer - Roy Lachica
Location Manager – Rafael Galon
Editor - Tara Illenberger
Script Supervisor - Rene Oabel
Music - Richard Gonzales
Sound - Mike Idioma
Make-Up Head - Alex Vicencio
Casting Supervisor - Eliza Timbol

This is one of those movies that you never want to watch again. And I don't mean that in a bad way. It's just that the themes of this film were so disconcerting, so morbid, and are very very likely happening in real life, that it will leave you unhinged. It had tipped me off scale, left me out of balance.

After watching the film, I felt suddenly and inexplicably exhausted, deflated as if my happy balloon had been pricked by a needle.

Definitely not the best film to start a movie marathon.

At any rate, I particularly remember the scene where Dennis Trillo's character, Crisanto Espina, was scrubbing - with great intent, I might add - the accumulated grime off of the bottom of a pan. He was doing this right after he had killed someone. I was so taken by his insistence on making the pan clean, it was as if his entire life depended on it, as if by succeeding, his crimes will be likewise washed off.

Another remarkable aspect of the film was Espina's unfailing performance of the sign of the cross after every kill. The whole thing was just so oxymoronic.

And I did like it, mind you, in the way that one likes shadows and dark things. You acknowledge its greatness and impact but you'd rather not talk about it.

2. #Y (New Breed)
“#Y” (“Hashtag Y”) chronicles the adventures of the members of a generation made universal by the realms of social media, the internet, sex, drugs and alcohol, and the occasional YOLO.
Directed By:
Gino M. Santos
Main Cast:
Elmo Magalona, Coleen Garcia, Sophie Albert, Kit Thompson, Slater Young, Chynna Ortaleza

Director - Gino Santos
Writer - Jeff Stelton
Producers - Jane Torres / Armi Cacainindin / Carlo Mendoza
Executive Producers - Stained Glass Productions / Timeframe Media Production
Director of Photography - Carlo Mendoza
Assistant Director - Alex Uy
Editor - Benjamin Tolentino
Production Designer - Digo Ricio
Art Director - Mao Fadul
Musical Scorer - Jorge Bautista Wieneke (Similar Objects)
Sound - Drew Millalos
Production Manager - Nailen Garalde


A rather trippy, but relatable movie. It oozes with the Zeitgeist - so dense yet, in some respects, porous as well, that there was ample room for something timeless and existential in nature.

I love how bravely and realistically it presented the themes of sex, drugs, love, the meaning of life, and death. If it were an ideal, it would be liberalism mingled with pessimism and skepticism. It hurled projectiles of anything that was messed up in this modern age - how obsessed we are with social media, how empty we are all starting to become.

It was not as exhausting as the first film we've watched, not as dark and gruesome. It was gray, I think, if we are to speak in colors.

And I like it too.

3. 1st Ko Si Third (New Breed)
Matapos ang mahigit apat na dekada ay muling makikita ni Cory ang kanyang 1st love na si Third na siyang magbibigay kulay at gugulo sa kanyang buhay bilang may asawa at retiree.
Directed By:
Real Florido
Main Cast:
Nova Villa, Dante Rivero, Freddie Webb, Ruby Ruiz, Lara Morena, RJ Agustin, Denise Barbacena, Coleen Borgonia, Ken Chan

Director & Screenwriter - Real S. Florido
Executive Producers - RJ Agustin / Real Florido / Vian Serranilla
Associate Producer - Erika De Leon
Assistant Producer - Cara Gem Florido
Location Manager - Jon Versoza
Director of Photography - Dom Dycaico
Camera Operator - Marcee Lacap
Music Arranger & Composer - Jeff Hernandez
Editor - Tara Illenberger
Sound Design - Mike Idioma
Talent Caster - Marichu Ibarrientos
Production Design - Jeck Cogama / Popo Diaz
Wardrobe - Romer Gumban
Assistant Directors - Onel Alatiit / Paolo Apagalang
Production Company - Real Films In partnership with VFX Studios, Bonfire Productions, Inc.


Twenty-two years, I have phenomenally existed, and I have yet to find a Filipino film worthy of putting right next to The Big Fish. Until 1st Ko Si Third, that is.

Finally, a Filipino film that I can formally declare as my favorite. Best local movie I've watched so far.

It traipses around the notes of retirement, old age, frustrations, regrets, resolutions, and enduring love.

One scene that really made a huge impact was when Nova Villa's Cory took her shirt off and scrutinized her aged self in front of the mirror. I wondered what went through her mind, both as an actress and as a woman. That scene really plucked a heartstring.

I also love the Metaphor of the Run-down Car. (I love it so much that I intend to write a piece on it under The Celine Manifesto.) That when Andong finally fixed the old car, the husband and wife got along better. They were mended, reconnected, during the road trip they took in that car which Andong laboriously worked on despite Cory's discouragement. I like to think it hints at how relationships should not be left out to rot, that it shouldn't be something that is easily set aside and given up.

The proverbial "one that got away" was also a prevalent theme. I like how it was resolved. Perfection.

If I am to describe the film in one word: buoyant would be it. It is charming and endearing, making you laugh right when you needed it and weep without fear of embarrassment. Light and heavy all at once. Supernatant, gently bouncing up and down in the surface. Buoyant.

I laughed out loud and cried full-formed tears, big and heavy ones. And I did so without shame because all of it was worth it.

4. S6perados (New Breed)
Separados is a mostly bittersweet, partly comic, partly tragic saga of six men who have separated from their wives. Based on true stories, their parallel and overlapping tales are framed by a church wedding to a second wife by one of them, who grabs another chance at matrimonial bliss.
Directed By:
GB Sampedro
Main Cast:
Victor Neri, Ricky Davao, Jason Abalos, Anjo Yllana, Erik Santos, Alfred Vargas, Ritz Azul, Angel Jacob, Melissa Mendez, Althea Vega, Sharmaine Arnaiz, Iwa Moto, Diana Zubiri, Sue Prado, Menggie Cobarrubias, Cris Pastor, K-La Rivera, Rhea Lim, Jace Flores, Patricia Javier, Katrina Halili, Joel Lamangan

Five 2 Seven Entertainment Production
Alternative Vision Cinema
Director - Giuseppe Bede Magno Sampedro
Executive Producers - Gb Sampedro / Alfred Vargas / Patrick Michael Vargas
Story - Gb Sampedro / Enrique V. Ramos
Screenplay - Enrique V. Ramos
Producers - Gb Sampedro / Noel D. Ferrer
Associate Producers - Angelo Santos / Sarah Roxas / Malcolm Arevalo / Oli Laperal, Jr.
Line Producer - Omar Sortijas
Production Manager - Flordeliza H. Milan
Director of Photography - Tom Redoble
Assistant Director - Irene Emma Villamor
Production Designer - Marielle Hizon
Editor - Geoffrey William
Music - Marvin Querido
Original Songs - Gb Sampedro / Lara Maigue
Sound Design - Jess Carlos


After 1st Ko Si Third, I didn't think any more of the other films. This film, I've found, was merely ok.

S6perados ran on star power. But the story was lacking. It did not seem at all finished. I was looking for tangible conclusions for the respective stories, but there were none. The entire thing seemed, I don't know, raw. Or maybe I'm just a feminist. Hehe.

Unlike the first three films we've watched, some scenarios were too bizarre for me. I know they are probably happening in the real world, but cramming all of them into an hour-and-a-half film was a bit too extreme for me.

But, you know, I'm willing to watch it again, after I've gotten over 1st Ko Si Third, to be more objective.


What I really like about Cinemalaya is that the films are honest, unflinchingly unpretentious. The themes portrayed are radical and controversial yet the films find a way to mellow them down, to make them more digestible.

Cinemalaya runs until August 10, 2014. For more info, check out the official website.

Cheers to the next adventure!

You Might Also Like